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The Low2No project is designed to help transition our cities to a low carbon future. We aim to balance economy, ecology and society through strategic investments and interventions in the built environment.

06. Week in Review

Other than the Low2No conference covered in the previous post, this week's big news: work is commencing on site! A detailed geotechnical evaluation was conducted to determine just where our site sits above one of Jätkäsaari's original 3 islands, and to what degree we will need to contend with fill or steeply sloping rock when it comes time to building our foundations or drilling geothermal bore holes.

Jätkäsaari is starting to grow: note the rubble piles that will become part of the harbor's massive regrading project
Jätkäsaari is starting to grow: note the rubble piles that will become part of the harbor's massive regrading project

Sitra, SRV and VVO together with an outsized legal team began the painful legal wrangling that will determine exactly how the shared infrastructure of the block will be managed. In this case, we are extending "infrastructure" to include soft things like the retail and services that will be a part of every building on the block, as well as more traditional forms of infrastructure such as the parking level. In this case we will also be adding photovoltaic and geothermal systems to the infrastructure list.

As it is not within the normal business purview of any one client partner, these critical components that enable us to create a truly mixed-use block that leverage synergies between elements to productive effect, such as reducing per capita carbon emissions and improving enery efficiency, will need to be carefully developed and safeguarded. First and foremost, a legal framework has to be developed that sets the conditions of ownership and partnership, especially among the retailers. Risk must be handled in a way that makes each client partner comfortable in investing in the block's non-standard components. And tax issues and future liabilities must be imagined and addressed. This is no small task. But if done right, it could be one of the most transferrable products of the Low2No project thus far.

Carbon mitigation via investments in renewables organized at the district scale.
Carbon mitigation via investments in renewables organized at the district scale.

This week we also broke ground a short study that will hopefully shed some light on the potential for financial mechanisms as a carbon mitigation tools working at the district scale. One of the many compelling ideas in the Low2No competition was turning Jätkäsaari into a carbon neutral district by creating a revolving fund that would invest in renewable, carbon-free electricity generation. The idea was strong, but Jätkäsaari's long development time frame made it quite difficult to implement as residents and business will be trickling in over the next 15 years. So, together with GreenStream Network here in Helsinki, Sami Tuhkanen from Energy and I will do a quick survey of what's happening now in Finland in this space and provide a set of recommendations for future initiatives. 

February 15th, 2011

Posted by: Justin W. Cook

Category: Weeknotes